Santa Claus Is Coming To Cruise

December 9, 2010 -

John Heald

Right now lots of people are getting excited about their Christmas cruise and while once on board it is a great experience for sure………there are surely some challenges. Not only do you have to pack all the usual assortment of vacation bollocks, sun cream, elegant wear, non-elegant wear, 819 different battery chargers, power strips and smuggled booze but also you have to think about all the presents you’ll be handing out on Christmas morning or for Hanukkah.

Packing is already the worst thing in the world after trying on a pair of pants in a shop or farting and realising you have had blow through but when you also have to pack the roses you bought as a present for your wife from the Citgo Station, and 8,500 more battery chargers for all the kids’ new toys, it’s a bloody nightmare. You have to go to the airport in an 18 wheeler truck.

And then, there is something certainly different about Christmas in the sun. Even in Jamaica they send seasonal cards with Santa and his reindeer on them even though all of us know Jesus was born in a blizzard. It’s a fact. That’s why the shepherds came down from the hills. Because they wanted to get warm.

Have you ever tried singing Silent Night when it’s 100 F in the shade? It’s similar to playing the Electric Slide at a funeral. I know from experience that cruising with Carnival at Christmas is a brilliant experience but I have always wondered that surely it must confuse the heck out of the younger kids. My last time on board at Christmas was on the Carnival Triumph and I remember telling the children that Santa would be arriving by helicopter which was bad enough.

But the lack of flying reindeer was not what baffled the kids as much as the fact that the crew member we had to play Santa was in fact our DJ. His name was Devin and he was from Barbados. A fantastic character who loved kids and the fact that he was 300 pounds plus and had a laugh that would cheer up the most miserable bugger made him the perfect chap to play Santa. Unfortunately Carnival didn’t exactly provide us with the most lavish of Santa costumes deciding instead to get one from K Mart. Thus Devin’s Santa’s beard covered very little of his beaming face leading many a child on that cruise to pull on Mum and Dad’s sleeve as they lined up to get a present and say “Santa’s all brown.”

I have always tried to be honest here with you on our blog thingy and therefore I have to admit that in years’ past myself and if they’re honest as well, other CD’s and crew will tell you that we never truly looked forward to being onboard at Christmas back in the day.
Now that’s obviously because we are apart from our families but also there was a good chance that some of the guests would be demanding and somewhat ummmm………rude to the crew……….. We as crew used to think that back then it was the people who sailed at Christmas were the people who hadn’t been invited to anything and that put them in a truly bad mood and I always remember Christmas time in the 1990’s onboard as being extremely challenging.

These days it’s certainly different. Whereas back in the 1990’s there were not too many children onboard which made for a really non-Christmassy feel, these days families are all getting together on board and celebrating the holidays together and that really seems to bring out the joy in everyone, including the crew.

Christmas on board Carnival is similar to spending it at home. Turkey, pumpkin pie, a Christmas Show, Hanukah Lighting, Santa bringing gifts for everyone of the kids, decorations, music, cheer and all the usual traditions. The only problem these days is working out how on earth you will get the 7 foot tall wooden eagle your wife bought you in Jamaica home in your suitcase.

Yes there will be the usual, year-round travel problems. You’ll have to lineup for seven hours so that someone can X-ray your underpants and confiscate your toothpaste. You’ll get deep vein thrombosis from flying economy class and sunburn from spending Christmas Day at the beach. But you won’t have to clean, do the washing up, prepare the turkey and worry about if the stuffing is cooked properly and gives Grandpa explosive diarrhea.

Let’s have a look at the Carnival Conquest and her Christmas decorations.

Time for today’s Q and A……off we go.

Larry & Connie Asked:
John, please reply

Just got back from the Carnival Splendor Oct. 17th cruise & I would like to know how come the ship was cleared about 8:45 a.m. Sunday morning for all self assist people, then it was uncleared? We missed our flight because of this. We were tag 2 & were not allowed to leave until 10:35. I’ll bet a lot of people also missed theirs. This is our 22nd cruise. 7th with Carnival.

Now for the good stuff. Thanks for a wonderful time spent aboard the Carnival Splendor. We were glad to have finally met you in person after reading your blog for so many years. Thank you also for our own piece of ship on a stick. We took the Behind the Fun tour. It was a lot of walking, but well worth it. The Rhythms of the night show was amazing. The boat ride over & back was a show all by itself. The weather could not have been any better. Our thanks to a couple of the bar staff that shined. Alexandru from the pool bar & Piotr in the show room & outside decks
Larry & Connie (cabin 7253)

John Says:
Hello Larry and Connie,

I am very sorry for the late response to this posting and I hope you are still reading the blog thingy so that you can see my reply. I remember that cruise very well. We did clear the ship as you said at 8:45am and then were told that United States Customs and Border Patrol wanted to do a face to face examination of every guest debarking the vessel.

Normally when a ship comes in the inspectors will examine the non US citizens thoroughly and will review passports and ID of the US citizens. This particular morning they wanted to see each and every guest regardless where they were from. Now this is a very important procedure that they have to do of course but they only had 4 inspectors to see 3,300 guests, the result of which was that you and others were delayed in debarking the vessel and for this I sincerely apologise. There are still many ways in which we can improve onboard organizational wise but it is important for everyone to remember that there are certain things that are out of our control.
I am so glad you had fun and it was an honour (spelt correctly) to meet you and I will make sure Alexandru and Piotr see your words of praise.

Once again my apologies and I hope we see each other again soon

Best wishes
John

K. Silvestri Asked:
John REPLY URGENTLY !!!!!

I will be on the Valor on December 18th and want my son to have a confirmed spot in the Legends show as Frank Sinatra. He is 19 and is better than Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra himself and will be the star of the show I promise and I need a guarantee that he will be in the show. We have booked 4 cabins and have all the family sailing. His name is Sam and he will be in cabin 1329. Can you write to me as soon as possible to confirm his place in the show? YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT AND IT WILL MEAN THAT WE WILL SAIL CARNIVAL AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Says:
Hello K. Silvestri,

You son sounds like he has a real talent and I am sure he will indeed be a great asset to the show. I am though going to have to disappoint you because I cannot reserve a spot for him or for any guest in the Carnival Legends show. We have open auditions which of course is the fair way to decide who takes part and as the guests decide by their applause who will feature as each act and judging by the talent that you say Sam has then I am sure he will get to take part. I wish him good luck and for all of you to have a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes
John

Cindy Miller Asked:
Hi John Please reply

I have booked a cruise on the Dream leaving on Jan. 8, 2011. This will be my husband Bob’s last cruise as he is getting too sick to travel and I am unsure if he will still be with us next year. I was wondering if you could do something to make this special for him. I am so glad we did not wait until we retired to cruise as we are only 56 and he loves it so much. You never know when an illness is going to strike and whether an adult or child it is devastating. We have a grandosn who is 1 year old and he has never left the hospital so I can empathize with the families at St Jude. Thanks you for taking the time to visit. Also I need to arrange a scooter to be at the ship. Can you tell me where I can get one? We will be in cabin 8365

Thanks again
Cindy

John Says:
Hello Cindy Miller,

I was so sad to read about your grandson and having been to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital recently and seen the pain and anguish on the faces of the parents whose young ones I can somewhat understand the anguish you and your family must be feeling. On a happier note I will be honoured to send your husband a little something when you cruise next month. As for the motor scooter I will ask someone from our special needs desk to contact you as soon as possible. I wish you both a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes
John

Jeni Asked:
Dear John, Please Respond

Hello!!! I have just found your blog and I am really enjoying reading all of it! There is so much to learn 🙂 I would like to know if there is a way to make a notation in my reservations that I would like a table for 2? Me and my husband are going on the Triumph in December and we will be celebrating our 15th anniversary and it will be the first cruise without our kids! We are calling it our “Relax and Reconnect” cruise. Too often we forget to put the necessary time into our relationships and I think our cruise will jump start a new beginning! Thank you so much for all you do 🙂

John Says:
Hello Jeni,

I need the date of sailing and your last name or cabin number please as soon as possible so I can see what I can do about your table request. Please write straight back today with a heading JOHN – TIME SENSITIVE PLEASE REPLY and I will do all I can.

I welcome you to the blog thingy and wish you both a wonderful relax and reconnect cruise vacation.

Best wishes
John

Ryan S. Asked:

(reply IF YOU HAVE TIME – DONT RUSH)
John,

I’m real upset that I’m not going to get to see you for my Dec 13 – 20 cruise on the Splendor. I was DEFINITELY looking forward to it. I’m going to be in 8347 and it DEFINITELY won’t be the same without you.
On to what I wanted to comment about. I’m a lurker. I never post on these and I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading about your life on a cruise ship. However, I have come out of the shadows to express my sincerest appreciation for what you do. I don’t understand how some of these people on the blog can you give this much crap. You work harder than 90% of these people and you really don’t get enough credit. People don’t realize how much work it is to do what you do and I would think that after reading your blog, they would understand that you don’t sit around like a lot of the people.

You sir, are amazing. Keep up the good work!
Ryan S.

John Says:
Hello Ryan S,

Well I guess by now you have re booked your Carnival Splendor cruise and I wonder if you could write back and tell me what ship and when you will be sailing. Please mark the post with a John Please Reply heading. Thanks so much for your kind words and I am so sorry that your vacation plans have had to be changed. I hope we get to sail together one day soon.

Best wishes
John

Marissa Ortiz Asked:
Dear John, (PLEASE REPLY)

As I prepared to write, I began to think about how anytime my children’s coaches or teachers want to get information to my husband, they send it to me and ask that I pass on the information. I began to wonder if I should be sending this to Heidi instead. 🙂
Well, my family and I are HUGE fans of Carnival. We have never sailed with anyone else. We never have had reason to do so. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

While Carnival has consistently provided several dollars worth of value for every penny we pay we found ourselves in a very difficult situation early this summer that had us thinking that it would be a long time before we would be able to enjoy all Carnival has to offer.
You see, at the beginning of the summer my husband Eric and I were given the news that our 8 yr old daughter Iliana has a pituitary tumor. She is undergoing treatments every 4 weeks at a cost of $907 each treatment. But despite it all, she has been such a trooper, she has personified bravery and has been an inspiration to me and so many around her.

Her siblings didn’t complain when they found their entire summer to be consumed with Iliana’s doctor’s visits, hospital stays and countless medical tests. The fact that they didn’t even have an opportunity to jump in a swimming pool this summer didn’t distract them from their support of their sister.

My husband Eric has been working 15-16 hour days at least 6 days a week to be able to cover the medical costs and help to make it possible for me to remain in school and care for our children. And even with lack of sleep and long work days he still manages to get away from work for a little over an hour so as not to miss the opportunity to watch one of his kids play soccer. He is an amazing man and my children and I are blessed.

And Chelsea, my just turned 17 year old sister-in-law who gave up her privacy and any freedom to move in with us at the beginning of the summer to help me with the other kids while I tend to Iliana and her appointments and treatments, will also be joining us. I am so grateful for her. She has willingly given up much of her high school experience in order to help us.

Well, my in-laws felt that we needed some time together as a family, away from work, and hospitals and needles and school books and they have decided that they are going to help us make a Carnival vacation possible for our family. We are now booked on the 1/15/2011 sailing of the Carnival Triumph out of New Orleans. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Iliana’s 9th birthday than by celebrating it the Carnival way. And even better than having some much needed family time and being able to celebrate Iliana’s birthday with Carnival is that my in-laws will be joining us.

I am soo excited and it is taking everything out of me to keep this secret from the kids (Chelsea included). My in-laws want us to tell the kids that the cruise is a gift from Santa. I can’t wait to see the kid’s reaction on Christmas morning when they find out about their vacation. I can’t wait for my husband to have some down time away from work. I can’t wait for my other children to get back the summer they lost out on. I can’t wait for my sister-in-law to have a change to just be a teen. I can’t wait to have some time with my kids, but I too am exhausted. It takes a lot out of me each day to not allow current circumstances to make me feel defeated or overwhelmed. I am looking forward to time with the kids and my husband but I am also looking forward to having a few moments of quiet even if it means I have to wait until everyone else is asleep in order to find a little quiet. Most importantly, I can’t wait to celebrate my daughter’s life as we wish her well with days full of strength, laughter and improved health as she will be beginning her 9th year.

So, after my long drawn out novel, I would like to make a few requests…

Would it be possible to do something for all these wonderful people that I have been blessed with??? For my in-laws, Judy and Carlos (Cabin # 2417) and for my wonderful husband Eric and children Laura (Lori – Age 14), Anthony (age 13), Miguel (age 11), my sister-in-law Chelsea (age 17) and of course Iliana who will be celebrating her 9th birthday aboard the ship.

And while I know that I am already asking for a lot, can you arrange for something special for Iliana for her birthday? She is quite the performer and loves performing. Would it be possible that she can be called on stage before or during one of the evening’s entertainment shows? Perhaps to assist with a magic trick if there will be a magician on board. Something where she can be in the limelight as we celebrate her life and birthday instead of her being the focus of attention for doctors and nurses as she undergoes medical tests.
Thanks John and Thanks Heidi for not letting John fall asleep as he reads this.

My love to Kye. Hold that baby tight because they grow up too fast.

Respectfully,
Marissa Ortiz-Mena

John Says:
Hello Marissa Ortiz – Mena

I hope that considering the gap between you writing such a heartfelt post and me replying that your beautiful Iliana has responded well to the treatment and is growing from strength to strength. She sounds such a wonderful young lady and what an honour it will be to do something very special for her when you sail on the Carnival Triumph. I am going to speak to the cruise director on the ship and ask him to do something special for her birthday. The CD is Noonan and he is a great friend of mine and I know he will make it a special day for your daughter. All of us here wish you a wonderful cruise and that Iliana will have a long and healthy and very happy life.

Best wishes to you all
John

Tiffany Byczko Asked:
Hi John (Please reply)

I so enjoy reading your blog and FB every day. You are quite comical and my husband and I both enjoy your writings. You tell it the way it is and we like that. I have a favor to ask. We are sailing on the Dream Jan 8, just made our reservation this week. We ALWAYS eat at the early seating or was willing to try the Any Time dining this time but, both are booked! We are stuck with the late seating and I am a little upset as that is too late to eat a big meal. Is there anything that can be done? It is only the two of us and would really like either the early or the Any Time.

Continue the writings and all that you do. Oh, enjoyed when Heidi was filling in on FB when she and Kye was aboard with you. Kye is darling! We have a 19 month old daughter…aren’t they fun!!

Take care!

John Says:
Hello Tiffany Byczko,

Yes indeed they are fun and Kye is getting bigger every day, it’s going so fast. Anyway, I will certainly do all I can to change your dinner assignment and thanks for telling me how much you enjoy the Facebook updates and the blog. I wish you both a brilliant cruise.

Best wishes
John

Katiel53 Asked:
John, Please Reply,

First of all I would like to thank you for the champagne and the ship on a stick that you arranged for Malcolm to deliver to my cabin on my birthday. Our table was in a perfect location, right next to the Captain’s table. You made my day a special one. I was surprised that my sister made the request.

We had a great cruise on Miracle and loved, loved the ports with the exception of La Romana. We had been there many years ago and didn’t like it, and stiff feel the same way.
The people in Aruba & Curacao were so glad to see that Carnival is once again sailing to their island. We had great times in the casinos on both islands. Grand Turk was also a lot of fun. I am hoping we get to these ports again.

Many of us had a problem with bringing wine on the ship in Ft Lauderdale. We did have our wine in our carryon bags. We also had a 1.5 liter bottle for 2 people. Security there could not understand that 2 750ml. bottles equaled 1.5 liters. No matter how much we tried to explain to them, they insisted that Carnival wouldn’t allow them to be brought on so they took each and every one they saw.

Needless to say, we were not happy. I asked the person checking us in the VIP area and she said that is not the policy. We should have been allowed to bring one bottle for the two of us as we wanted to. Is there any way you could talk to the “beards” and have them get the port people to understand that we are allowed that much wine for 2 people? The funny thing is that I had bought a bottle of Cream Limoncello in Ft Lauderdale to take home. I had fully expected that to be taken and returned to me at the end of the cruise, but they told me I could take that onboard. I explained that it was not wine but an alcohol and they said it was the right size so it was ok.

We went to Nick & Nora’s and loved the food. I just wish we had room to eat all we were served. We left so full we could hardly move.
I want to add that Malcolm is a great CD. He was out talking with passengers often and he seems to love his job. We had good service from our waiter Kbal and our cabin steward Francisco. I also met the food and beverage manager who is extremely nice and easy on the eyes. If only I were 30 years younger—–

We love sailing Carnival and are looking forward to our B2B in April on Carnival Dream. Thanks again for making my birthday great!

John Says:
Hello Katiel53,

Thanks so much for the great review. Let’s start with the wine issue and I have already sent this report to the embarkation manager and I apologise that you had such difficulties. I will make sure that this is not repeated and thanks again for letting me know about it.

I have never been to La Romana. I know that for many it is a favourite port and I would love to know more as to why you did not enjoy it. As for the other ports………well it’s great to read that you enjoyed them so much and as importantly that they were happy to see Carnival back again.

I have sent your words of praise to the ship and I am glad everything regarding dinner and the prizes, etc worked out and my thanks to the team there for making that happen. Malcolm is indeed a great CD and it is always nice when I read that one of my colleagues has done such a great job.

I hope we see each other soon and my best wishes to you and your family

John

Will Johnson Asked:
John (Reply if you get time)

As a smoker thank you for representing both sides of the argument. I do feel that smokers could be more considerate to non-smokers and would support a move to make cabins non-smoking and could I suggest balconies on one side of the ship also non-smoking ( consistent with Lido Deck) thus removing the accusations of smoke drifting from an adjacent balcony (on a ship doing 20 knots!)
You replied to me regarding a request for my friend earlier this year that you missed ( I recall multiple use of the term “bo???cks in your reply ) due to the back log and asked me to contact you regarding our upcoming trip on the Carnival Dream March 2011 – how far in advance would you recommend I post my very modest request?

Regards
Will

John Says:
Hello Will,

The logistics of sorting out 3,000 guests into non smoking and smoking sides would be a virtual impossibility. Personally I would allow smoking on all balconies as we do now but not allow smoking inside the cabins…….buts that my view. As I have mentioned here many times before, the challenge is to find a happy medium that pleases both smokers and non smokers. And I promise you that is not easy. Anyway, I am as you can tell way behind in answering requests so please post your wishes in early January and I will do all I can assist you as best as possible. Thanks so much for taking the time to write.

Best wishes
John

Jeni and Mark Richard Asked:

PLEASE READ, AND REPLY! Hello John! I replied to yesterday’s blog, but I don’t know if I did it right. I have never seen it post 🙂 I want to first thank you for keeping me laughing. I just recently found your blog and I am now constantly calling my husband at work to make him read the funny things you have to say!! I am not sure how you have enough hours in the day for everything you do…but we sure appreciate it all.

If possible, can you please help me make my 15th anniversary special for me and my husband? We are calling this our “Relax and Reconnect” cruise. I love him more now than ever. It just seems sometimes everyday life gets in the way and we forget to make our relationship a priority. We have vowed to use this cruise to recharge our marriage and fall in love all over again. We would love a table for 2 if that is possible, and anything else you think would make our time together memorable. We will be cruising December 11-16 on the Triumph, cabin #7269.

John Says:
Hello Jeni and Mark Richard.

Ignore my previous request because here is the information I need.
Have a brilliant time

Best wishes
John

That’s all for today except I want to talk quickly about a comment I saw on my blog yesterday, here it is:

Sean Asked:
Hey John,

On Cruise Critic no one is giving a thumbs up approval of Felipe coming out on the splendor, not a slam from me but not very many happy people:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1318180

Are you sure this is the Best Carnival can come up with for the return of the SS Tita … errr….

John Says:
Hello Sean,

Thanks for telling me about this link and having read it I wanted to say that while I respect the opinions of Golfadj and others there were just as many Cruise Critic members who said that they thought he was excellent. I also know that there are some regular blog readers who have sailed with Felipe recently and truly enjoyed him. Now, I admit that having read some of the comments and these will be addressed.

We chose Felipe after much thought and based on the review cards he has received these past couple of years. We realise the Carnival Splendor will have many pairs of eyes on her next month and I promise that we wouldn’t have put a cruise director there who wasn’t up to the job and then some. Cruise Critic (like this blog) is an opinion based web site and a very, very important one but I do ask you to go onboard with an open mind and not be influenced by what others say. They may be right much of the time….and they may be wrong and in the case of Felipe…………I promise they are wrong.

Has anyone else sailed with Felipe and if so what did you think.
By the way, Golfadj and others………thanks for sharing your thoughts as this is what makes this blog such an effective tool for improvement.

So, I hope you saw the CD schedule on yesterday’s blog. I also want to point out that somehow a few sentences got deleted……bugger. I had written that in May last year I had been on the Carnival Fantasy……our oldest ship and that this May I would be on our newest ship…….your Carnival Dream. But somehow I buggered that bit up and I wanted to apologise for that and confirm that I will not unfortunately be on the Carnival Fantasy in May……….sorry for the confusion.

Yesterday on my Facebook page I had written asking for people’s thoughts on the PA system as this is a very hot topic with the beards right now. My question was asking that on their last cruise did the readers think the PA system was used just enough or too much and was it entertaining or not?

Using the PA system is not easy and certainly some CD’s use it better than others. Some can be free flowing on stage but stutter and “er” consistently during an announcement as I did for the first few years of my career. Making the announcements interesting and entertaining is difficult let me tell you and from the comments I read on Facebook it seems that some cruise directors are certainly better at it than others.

Now what is interesting is that having sailed on Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Cunard Line recently I can tell you that the PA system on these ships are used sparingly compared to how we use them at Carnival and for the most part they are not used at all for revenue promotion. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well my view on this is that there should be a balance between the two. It is important that we keep guests informed and never put announcements in the cabin unless of course it’s something everyone needs to know. We are on some ships starting now to use the interactive TV system for information but for the most part this is not going to replace the PA system because the guests are not always in their staterooms.

Anyway, it would be very interesting to read your views on this so please……..post away.

Time for a break and I want to take you back to one of the most memorable of my cruise ship experiences……the meeting of the Three Queens. This is some of what I wrote back then.

As the traffic crawled along towards the cruise ship docks in Southampton I watched as young and old pointed through their car windows at what they saw…………those Billboards could have advertised “Today Only, Free Aston Martins with a naked Latvian thrown in”…………………nobody would have seen it…………the people had seen the three Queens……………nothing else mattered.

The only time I have ever seen the Queen Mary 2 is when she docked with us in Cannes two years ago. I was on the Carnival Liberty and I remember the awesome sight as I stood on the bridge and watched through powerful binoculars as she dropped her anchor.

This time though I was up close and personal and like many before me and many who were doing the same now I stood there, my mouth wide open in pure astonishment. So, there she was………….The Queen Mary sailing past the Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth 2 before heading to New York .I wonder where Cunard would be now if Carnival Corporation had not breathed new and exciting life into them ……………..I wonder if Mr. Arison and his colleagues realize that what they have done is to allow future generations to experience a Cunard voyage.

I would never dare to second-guess our Chairman and C.E.O. but something tells me that rejuvenating Cunard by building the magnificence that is Queen Mary 2 must surely be one of the greatest achievements of his professional life and all of us who stood and watched yesterday thank him so very much.

I titled that blog A Day of Days and it certainly was and for some very lucky New Yorkers …….they are also going to experience this extraordinary event……as you will read now.

On Thursday, 13 January 2011, Cunard Line’s three luxury cruise ships – flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and the new Queen Elizabeth – will meet together in New York Harbour for a true grand celebration, a Cunard Royal Rendezvous.  The youngest fleet at sea is scheduled to depart at approximately 6:00 p.m. local time; Queen Mary 2 will depart from her home port, Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, while Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will depart from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal – Pier 90 and Pier 88, respectively.  All three Queens will rendezvous at the Statue of Liberty for a spectacular Grucci fireworks celebration at approximately 6:45 p.m.

“This is another historic occasion for Cunard and New York, marking the second time in our 171-year history that our entire fleet of Queens will meet there in such celebratory fashion, and marking Queen Elizabeth’s maiden call to our North America homeport,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line.  “We look forward to bringing this next meeting of our Queens to the great city of New York and continuing the pageantry and grand celebration that is Cunard.”

Cunard’s first Royal Rendezvous in New York was in 2008 when its fleet – Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Victoria – met for the first and only time in New York as QE2 retired in November of that year, marking a historic moment in maritime history.

Thousands of travel and maritime enthusiasts will be joined by admirers to gather at ideal viewing locations to wish the magnificent fleet of Queens “Bon Voyage” and see the spectacular fireworks celebration.  Viewing locations include:

— Battery Park: On the southern shoreline of Manhattan, www.thebattery.org
Map link: http://www.bpcparks.org/bpcp/map/map.php

Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park: Overlooking the Hudson River with great views of the Statue of Liberty
Getting there: Just south of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  By subway: 4 or 5 to Bowling Green, or N or R to Whitehall.

— The Esplanade: Running the entire length of Battery Park City, along the Hudson River from Stuyvesant High School on the north end all the way south to Battery Park

Hudson River Park: 550 acre park extends for five miles along the Manhattan shoreline from Battery Place to West 59th Street

Additionally, The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park will be offering front row suites to the event, complete with telescopes for prime viewing.  With the Cunard Royal Rendezvous package, guests will enjoy fireworks and breathtaking vistas over New York Harbour, the Statue of Liberty and the three ships passing through the night from a Statue of Liberty View Guestroom or Suite.  They will also enjoy a seafood tasting tier for two delivered to their guest room or suite and full American breakfast in the hotel’s 2 West Restaurant. In addition, the first 50 guests to book the package will receive, compliments of Cunard, Queen Mary 2: Ocean Liner Cuisine – a coffee table-style cookbook penned by Cunard’s Executive Chef and Global Culinary Ambassador Jean-Marie Zimmermann, only available for sale on the fleet’s ships.

I suggest that anyone from the New York area does their best to see this as I promise it will be an experience you will never ever forget. I would get there early though because nothing draws a crowd like a Cunard ship…….except Megan Fox’s bottom of course.

Here is today’s piano bar entertainer and off we go to the Carnival Elation

Name: Liz Strauss
Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa
Most Requested Song: Sweet Home Alabama (on the Elation)
Best Part of Being a Carnival Piano Bar Entertainer: You get to have fun with guests every single night, that is, while you’re working!
Personal Bio: Liz has been with Carnival for 5 years as piano bar and recently started singing too. She holds a Bachelors degree in Music and Psychology, as well as a master’s degree in Journalism. She and her husband are in the process of immigrating to the United States from South Africa, so soon they will literally be African-American. Style of entertaining ranges from high energy, interactive sing-alongs to tranquil cocktail bar improvs, jokes and chats. From rock ‘n roll piano and Country to light jazz and contemporary, whatever has the piano bar booming.

I am writing this from my Mum and Dad’s house and specifically from my Dad’s office (or shrine to Carnival Cruise Lines) as my computer decided it would be less turned on than any girl who has ever or will ever see me naked. The sodding thing just won’t start so here I am using my Dad’s office and his computer.

Working for Carnival has enabled me though to look after them in special ways and they have enjoyed so many cruises in the past. These cruises, compared with family holidays of the past which were spent camping, sleeping on the floor and pooing in a bucket were pure luxury for them. These days they can’t sail as flying is just too much for them but my Dad has built up a shrine to Carnival and has a picture of every ship I have been on as well as the inaugural mementos and the few awards that I have been given all placed proudly in his office.

I don’t talk much about my parents as they are quite private people but without them I would not be here today and I have been blessed with two very important traits which I have been given by them………my Mum’s sense of humour………….and my Dad’s arse.

Well tomorrow’s blog will be very interesting indeed and will include the first ever official Carnival Cruise Lines awards as we ask the blog readers and readers of my Facebook page and of Carnival’s Facebook page to vote for their “best of.” I am also going to be telling you a little about the future of the blog and ask you all for a big favour. So please join me tomorrow.

Time then to go and decorate the Christmas tree. We started yesterday and will finish today. Watching Kye’s face as we do is to steal Mastercards’s thunder…….priceless. Of course, there is still loads of pain and suffering for me as I have to stand holding the damn thing while Heidi examines the tree from all angles to make sure it is standing as straight as Tiger Woods thingy.
Then, once the tree is straight and Heidi has approved the position the real hell begins as we start to decorate the tree. My job, is to stand holding the box of balls and things which we have once again spent a billion dollars on this year. I did ask why we cannot use the same ones every year and I was told that Christmas tree decoration is like fashion….. it changes every year.

So, this year we have a red and gold motif and I am sure that as usual I will be standing holding the box for hours as Heidi does her thing and festoons the tree with various Christmas delights. Oh, but it’s not just the tree…oh no…. we then have the front door and the outside Christmas lights to hang as well so instead of spending a relaxing night watching my TV I will be spending the day with Sergeant Major Heidi Heald as she bellows her instructions on how this will be the best Christmas tree…….. in the world……… and if I make any mistakes…….it will be my chestnuts that will be roasting on an open fire.

As I mentioned yesterday we none of this procedure can take place until Heidi has put on her favorite Christmas song on the CD player so my pain is doubled as I have to listen to George Michael and the other one from Wham tell me that Last Christmas some girl broke his heart……..not as much as hers was broken when she discovered George would rather spend his Christmas with Elton John and Richard Simmons.

Goodnight
Your friend
John

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.